Thursday, March 05, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Shady Cross by James Hankins

"You just got out of jail? Seriously?" ~ Opening of Shady Cross



Shady Cross by James Hankins
Thomas & Mercer, 2015
Crime Fiction (Thriller); 298 pgs
From the Publisher:

In one hand, small-time crook Stokes holds a backpack stuffed with someone else's money -- three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of it.



In the other hand, Stokes has a cell phone, which he found with the cash. On the line, a little girl he doesn't know asks, "Daddy? Are you coming to get me? They say if you give them the money they'll let you take me home."

From bestselling author James Hankins comes a wrenching story of an unscrupulous man torn between his survival instincts and the plight of a true innocent. Faced with the choice, Stokes discovers his conscience might not be as corroded as he thought.
The description is what initially drew me to this novel, which is kind of ironic given I generally avoid child abduction stories.  Just goes to show, I suppose, that there are exceptions to every rule. Shady Cross once began as a idyllic place, beautiful and a haven for those who lived there. As time passed, it became less so, "shady" no longer meaning what it once did.  

I knew going in that Stokes is not what I would call a nice man.  He doesn't like to get attached and he gave up on earning an honest living long ago.  When he comes across a bag of money, he is serious about running with it even despite the debt he owes one of the two Shady Cross loan sharks and even despite the girl whose only hope of rescue is no longer available. 

The kidnappers are serious though. They want their money and the evidence the girl's father has taken from them. For every misstep made, the girl will come to harm.  It doesn't take long for Stokes to figure out just how true that is--and it's finally what proves there might be a heart beating inside his chest after all. 

I enjoy a good anti-hero now and then, and Stokes certainly fits that bill. I will not pretend I liked Stokes by the end of the book, not exactly, although I didn't hate him either. I wanted him to come out on top.  Stokes isn't the easiest to like--but I appreciated how honest he was about the kind of person he is. And I came to have some respect for him, for the efforts he went through to help that little girl. He may not have been the best of men, but he wasn't the worst of them either. He really did want to do the right thing in the end. 

One aspect of the book I liked in addition seeing Stokes grow as a character, was the juxtaposition of his situation and what he was trying to do with those he went to for help.  Just because someone is an upstanding citizen on the outside, doesn't mean that person actually is underneath. For all that Stokes was a shady character, those who were supposed to be better than him were sometimes worse.

There is much in the way of twists and turns in this book, many of which are unexpected. I had a couple different theories about how it would all turn out as I read, some of which was correct  and others came as a surprise.  Shady Cross definitely earns its thriller label. There was only one scene in the novel that made me queasy, in which I wondered if I could read on, but my desire to see good prevail over evil was strong. I am glad I stuck to it.

Shady Cross by James Hankins is gritty and suspenseful.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Stokes is racing against the clock, and Hankins does a good job of keeping up the intensity of events as they unfold. It was a hard book to tear my eyes away from, I just had to know how it would all turn out.


Rating: * (Good +)

To learn more about James Hankins, and his books, you can find the author on FacebookGoodReadsTwitter, and on his website.

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Shady Cross on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. The publisher provided me with an e-copy of the book via NetGalley for review.



© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

20 comments:

  1. I tend to shy away from child abduction stories too. They remind me too much of cases happening in reality; still learning what happen and in any way how to avoid them is important to know so it's hard to avoid reading them altogether.

    This book sounds like an intense read and I'm glad you enjoyed it, Wendy.

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    1. Melody - I think the reason behind the kidnapping in this book isn't likely to happen to many of us, thank goodness. I think that may be one of the reasons I wasn't turned off by the entire kidnapping plot.

      It really was an intense read! I enjoyed it. :-)

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  2. It's been a while since I read a good thriller! I think the last one I read was Jo Nesbo's Leopard and now I'm craving some good thriller. I should check this one out!

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    1. Athira - I hope you like this one if you read it! I haven't yet read anything by Jo Nesbo, although I have one or two of his books in my TBR collection.

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  3. I have this one! I started it a while back, but I started a Tami Hoag and a Susan Hill at the same time. I'm glad you enjoyed it and now I'm more eager to get back to it.

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    1. Jenclair - I'm anxious to get your take on it, Jenclair!

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    1. Kathy - It was quite a page turner. I hated it when I had to put it down. I needed to know what would happen next.

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  5. You gave me a teeny tiny spoiler yesterday so I think I can safely read this one. I'm glad of that because the premise sounds really intriguing!

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    1. Katherine - It's very dark. If you do decide to read it, I hope you like it! I'm glad my little spoiler helped you decide this one might be safe for you to read. :-)

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  6. I haven't heard of this author before but I do love a good thriller and this one sounds pretty good. Another one for the wish list I think.

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    1. Darlene - You should see my wish list. No, maybe you don't have to. I'm sure yours is just as long. LOL

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  7. Stokes sounds like a genuinely unsavory guy, so I'm very interested to see how he handles this situation. I'm sure he'll keep me turning the pages as quickly as possible to see what happens next.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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    1. Heather - He isn't exactly a good person when the book starts off, that's for sure. I hope you do give this one a try, Heather.

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  8. When I first heard about this one I wondered if I would like it or not. I think after reading your review that I will enjoy it. It just sounds like a unique type of thriller so I think I shall give it a shot. Great review!

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    1. Samantha - It's very dark. The people in the book are not nice. Except maybe the little girl. I enjoyed this one and hope you will too if you try it.

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  9. Shady Cross sounds like a good one and I can enjoy a good anti-hero as well. Nice review!

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    1. Naida - Thank you! I enjoyed this one. The author did a good job with Stokes and drawing me into his story. I like anti-heroes now and then too. They make you question and think more than you might with a character whose views and thoughts you generally agree with.

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  10. Not my kind of read, but really glad you enjoyed! I'm with you on enjoying the stray anti-hero now and again.

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    1. Shaina - I do not imagine everyone would be interested in this one, but I am glad I took a chance on it. :-)

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